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Google reveals smart contact lens to measure glucose levels

The lens will have a sensor that can take blood glucose readings from tears, and will have led lights to indicate when glucose levels cross a certain threshold.

By Ananth Baliga
Google reveals smart contact lens to measure glucose levels
Google said the sensors on the smart contact lens are so small they look like bits of glitter. (Credit: Google)

Google has unveiled a smart contact lens that can test blood glucose levels, but the company said it was still some way from being ready for everyday use.

The contact lens has a wireless chip and a tiny glucose sensor embedded between two layers of contact lens material. Google was also working on placing led lights on the lens to indicate when glucose levels cross a certain threshold.

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"We hope this could someday lead to a new way for people with diabetes to manage their disease," read a post on Google's blog.

Google seems to be jumping on the wearables bandwagon, and said their inspiration for the product came from the trouble people have to go through to get their blood sugar level measured daily. They used research that suggested tears could be used to measure glucose levels and decided to embed a sensor in a contact lens, making it a convenient way to check glucose levels

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Google said it was testing a prototype of the lens and was able to "generate a reading once per second." After completing multiple clinical trials they are now ready to go to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and get approval to market the product.

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They are also working with partners to further develop the technology and build apps that make the glucose levels available to the wearer as well as their doctor.

Manoj Menon, a managing director at consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, said it was encouraging that Google was open to partnering with other companies to develop new products.

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"Their open innovation approach is going to help accelerate the development of this product and get it out to the market much faster," Menon told BBC News.

According to the International Diabetes Federation, one in ten people globally will have diabetes by 2035.

[Google] [BBC] [International Diabetes Federation]

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